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The Apothecary Rose (Owen Archer, #1)
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The Apothecary Rose (Owen Archer #1)

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,404 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Once the king's captain of archers, now he must penetrate a poisoner's secrets...

Christmastide, 1363-and, at an abbey in York, two pilgrims die mysteriously dead of an herbal remedy. Suspicious, the Archbishop sends for Owen Archer, a Welshman with the charm of the devil, who's lost one eye to the wars in France and must make a new career as an honest spy.

Masquerading as a
Paperback, 319 pages
Published September 15th 1994 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published 1993)
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I marked the read date as July, however, I've read this one several times. The entire Owen Archer series is phenomenal, excellent stories from beginning to end, with characters who are neither all bad nor all good, just a perfect blend of both to make them human and real.

The attention to historical detail is wonderful, although their ideas of 'cures' can sometimes make one cringe in the modern world. Unlike many other mystery books, you aren't kept in suspense as to who did it, for you know righ
There were aspects of this book that I found very enjoyable...the way the city of York was brought to life as almost another character in the book, for example. Also, this is one of those mysteries where you know immediately WHO did it, but the hero does not, and must work at discovering both who and why. Those types of mysteries are often tricky, because there is a danger the reader will grow bored waiting for the detective to catch on. I wasn't terribly bored with this one, but I found the her ...more
I like historical novels as you can see if you search my reviews. Some of the best are series by authors such as Forster, O'Brian and Cornwell. Historical mystery writers have a particular challenge and some, such as Pargeter and Saylor, have mastered it. Candace Robb recognizes that and articulates it as follows: "Writing a historical mystery novel requires the author to wear three hats, novelist, historian and mystery writer. The novelist guards the integrity of the form, the growth of the mai ...more
The book starts off by setting the stage – introducing the characters that will soon be suspects and having the murder actually take place. It’s one of the few mysteries I’ve read that began in this manner. Most books start by introducing the main character. This is not most books.

Because of how the story begins, the reader spends a good portion of the book knowing things that the main character hasn’t figured out yet. However, Owen is quick and he figures things out before the halfway point.

Mar 30, 2011 Renee rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I had to buy this book in paper format, because there is no ebook version. So that was a downer. I did get bored about 3/4 of the way through. I think she is a great writer (the book was well written) but the plot kinda sucked. I thought it was going to be a mystery. We found out who committed the murder at the beginning of the book and did not really find out the why until the end and it was extremely anti-climatic. Not sure if I will go for the second one, since I have to order these books in ...more
Anne-Elizabeth Straub
I would like to have given The Apothecary Rose a "four minus" rather than a four rating.

For me, it rests securely in the "light reading" rather than in the "important literature " category.

That having been said, I did enjoy it a great deal! The author has a firm grasp of the period. (It likely does help to have a PhD in Medieval and Anglo-Saxon Literature.) She also does a lovely job of characterization.

The characters of the women were at least as fully realized as those of the men and people
John Lee
I think that it was a recommendation from Goodreads that put me on to this one. Certainly I hadnt heard of the author before.

I enjoyed the tale and the authors style in telling it. It is certainly well researched but, unlike a lot of historical fiction, it does not dwell on one particular aspect of the period. They are mentioned and left. One can think of authors who describe every course of each meal or each item of clothing.

As the author says in the notes at the end, she treads a line between
I really liked this book and am anxious to read more of the series! Good mystery plot woven into the medieval historical setting. I like how the author presents a story that transports the reader back 700 years but bridges to modern understanding. In other words, just enough historical flavoring without confusing me! Highly recommended for those who enjoy the historical mystery genre.
The book is well written and well paced. The story never bogs down in too much detail and the action progresses smoothly from one scene to the next. The characters are decently rounded and extremely interesting, particularly the villian, who is almost shower worthingly obsessed. The actions of the characters at the end keeps the suspense nicely ratcheted up and the pages turning.
Much of the drama in this book would have been averted if the actors in it had taken the time to determine whether or not the people they tried to kill did, in fact, die. Check your work, people.
Aug 06, 2014 Chris added it the link, and copied the text here...[return][return][return]The Apothecary Rose is a mystery set in 1300s England, York to be exact. It follows our hero, a half blind ex-archer who is employed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to discover why and how one of his wards had died. There was foul play afoot, and Archer has to discover it, as well as gain the trust of the female apothecary that he is using as a front.[return][return]This book was interesting eno ...more
A great light read. Owen Archer lost his eye in an unfortunate accident and no longer wants to be Captain of the archers. This is the first book of the series. It isn't really a mystery because we know at the beginning who killed the pilgrims. The why is a pretty interesting book. The characters seem believable. I'll read more of this series.
This is the firs of Owen Archer mysteries that I have read. The writing is good with characters, places, plots described wonderfully. Although it felt repetitive with the content at times.
With this book you know the "what" and "who" in the beginnning, the mystery is "why" and "how", different from other mysteries I have read before.

Mark Stone
Would that I could give this book ten stars. Terrific characterization, wonderful story, and a good mystery, as adeptly written as the Sister Fidelma stories. Will definitely be checking out the remaining tales of Owen Archer.
Ryan Baker
Okay, but not memorable, really. I didn't feel any urge to continue the series -- I kept wanting this book to be another Cadfael story, so it may have been my headspace going into the book, rather than the book itself.
Owen Archer is Captain of the Archers for the old Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt's father in law, but must find new work after a man rejected his mercy and Owen lost an eye. He ends up well educated and well trained as a spy who the Archbishop of York employs after the Duke dies. Two deaths, including his wayward ward, have occurred at an abbey in York and to satisfy his conscience he wants to know what happened. Buried secrets are discovered in trying to understand what led to these deaths. F ...more
Sandra Strange
Medieval mystery. I've read another of this series, featuring a master at longbow who must give up his vocation because he loses an eye and cannot see who's sneaking up on him on his bad side, though he practices to regain his skill at fighting and bow. As agent to a powerful archbishop, he must investigate the death of the man's ward in York, and chooses to do so by apprenticing to the wife of a master apothecary who is implicated in two deaths and now dying. The story is mystery, thriller, and ...more
This started me reading the whole series, even when I had to buy European printings because it wasn't issued in the US.
Owen Archer is a little at a loose end because of losing an eye and by a man he trusted, and had saved. He is dispached to investigate the death of two men and is sent to be undercover as one of the most likely suspect's apprentice. There he finds the suspect dying and his wife, Lucie, in charge. A much younger and quite pretty wife that Owen finds himself drawn to.

Owen is in a bind because a lot of the clues point at Lucie, or at her husband and he is conflicted over all of this.

I liked the cha
Russell Collins
I really enjoyed the first in the Owen Archer series. Set in 1393 in York. Having stayed just in York last May, it was wonderful to reconnect with York through fiction.
Larry Bowman
Not just a good writer, she has a good understanding of the place and time that she writes about (14th century England). These are not books so much about the kings and Dukes and Aristocrats of the time, she gets into the everyday characters and lets you get to know them-such as Magda Goodby the midwife, herbalist, surgeon, et al. for the commoners in the area (around York). She takes care of the poor, (and takes care of the indiscretions of the rich when they don't want anyone to know about it) ...more
Also read the series and did with the Historical Mystery group
Love these books. Wish they would come out in ebook
Rachel Amphlett
I would have given this first novel in the Owen Archer 4 stars, but sadly the lack of a final edit meant there were some silly annoying mistakes which kept appearing... best example is the use of the phrase "burn in hell" to curse an adversary, which actually appears in the ebook version as "bum in hell"... oh dear...

Will buy the second novel in the series to see how the characters develop... not as gripping as the CJ Sansom "Shardlake" historical novels, but a good introduction to a potential n
This was my first attempt at a Candace Robb novel and I really enjoyed it. There is some assumed knowledge of Medieval England but I got through that by looking up a few words and idioms and clergy related terms.

It was the third book in a row that I have read that was a mystery but the first mystery I have ever read set in the 14th century. It was a very quick and easy read for the most part but I thought that the plot was well developed and the mystery unfolded nicely at the end without too ma
Mar 06, 2015 Janet added it
It is the start of a very good series.
Pamela Hofman
I've read this book a few times and it has become a "comfort book." It's the genre I really love, i.e. medieval mystery in a continuing series. This is the first one in the series and I really enjoyed it. It has engaging characters, including a feminist lead. I don't know how accurate this would be for the time, but it was great to read and the author does attempt to put it in context. Ellis Peters, Margaret Frazer and Jeri Westerson fans will enjoy this series.
Scott L.
Very enjoyable first book in the Owen Archer series. The clues to the mystery were not well-hidden; yet reading this as historical fiction that also just happens to be a mystery makes that point rather moot. The characters are well developed and, for the most part, likable in context. I recommend this book as a beginning to a historical mystery fiction series: it will be interesting to see where Robb takes Archer and the rest of the characters from this point.
2.75 rounded up to GR 3

Medieval-set "mystery". It was just an OK read for me; I'm not sure if I will venture further in the series or not.
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AKA Emma Campion or Candace M. Robb
My novels are inspired by my study of the late Middle Ages in Northern Europe. I write crime novels under my own name, and historical novels about women in King Edward III's court under the pen name Emma Campion. I live in the beautiful Pacific NW, but frequently spend stretches of time in England, Scotland and Wales doing research and exploring. I have two ongoi
More about Candace Robb...

Other Books in the Series

Owen Archer (10 books)
  • The Lady Chapel (Owen Archer, #2)
  • The Nun's Tale (Owen Archer, #3)
  • The King's Bishop (Owen Archer, #4)
  • The Riddle of St. Leonard's (Owen Archer, #5)
  • A Gift of Sanctuary (Owen Archer, #6)
  • A Spy for the Redeemer (Owen Archer, #7)
  • The Cross-Legged Knight (Owen Archer, #8)
  • The Guilt of Innocents (Owen Archer, #9)
  • A Vigil of Spies (Owen Archer, #10)
A Gift of Sanctuary (Owen Archer, #6) The Lady Chapel (Owen Archer, #2) The King's Bishop (Owen Archer, #4) The Riddle of St. Leonard's (Owen Archer, #5) The Nun's Tale (Owen Archer, #3)

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